Whisky Review: Stauning Smoke

, | October 1, 2021

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Stauning Whisky. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

“What on Earth is this?” asked whisky writer Jim Murray. “Whisky-lovers will kill their mothers for a bottle of this. This could possibly become some of the world’s best peated whisky.”

I’m not sure how Jim’s mother takes this kind of enthusiasm, but for Stauning Whisky, it was the encouragement they needed. Denmark’s first whisky distillery, the tiny, hobbyist project, has projected into a substantial brand, gaining awards, major funding, and, as of yet, no reported matricides. 

Stauning was started in 2005 by a group of nine friends, just doing something they liked as a hobby. The original aim has continued through to the current product – to make a truly Danish whisky. That means every raw product going into the whisky comes from within three kilometers of the distillery – the grains, water, and combustibles.  

This includes the peat, a product you don’t see a lot of “locally” (unless, of course, you’re in Scotland, but even they do a lot of domestic purchasing of peated malt).  The specific peat Stauning uses is provided by the Klosterlund Museum. The museum pulls the peat traditionally from the ancient Bølling Lake, and also maintains an exhibit about the natural element and the industrial history. 

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In addition to peat, Stauning uses local heather to smoke their whiskies. They’re sourcing their particular heather from the nearby Ringkøbing Fjord. Heather smoke is a very common note in the Scottish Islay and Island whisky regions, adding a sweeter and more floral element to those highly smoked whiskies. The difference in terroir, therefore, really becomes apparent in this rare ability for comparison.

Smoke is the first “smoked” single malt whisky released by the distillery, though it is part of the blend that makes for the “Kaos” expression. This expression was then aged in a combination of casks: first fill bourbon casks, first fill Madeira casks, first fill Jamaican rum casks and virgin American Oak casks. 

But is it the world’s best peated whisky? It did clinch a silver medal at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and won Best Danish Single Malt at the 2019 World Whiskies Awards, in addition to Stauning’s other, numerous awards – including Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky Brand Innovator of the Year for 2021. However, you may have a bit of a wait to try some for yourself, considering that the bottle is out of stock from the distillery currently (but a few bottles may be floating around out there). For the sake of all the mothers out there, hopefully they restock soon. 

Stauning Smoke (image via Stauning Danish Whisky)

Stauning Smoke (image via Stauning Danish Whisky)

Tasting Notes: Stauning Smoke Single Malt Whisky

Vital Stats: 94 Proof, 47% ABV, 100% malted barley, Aged in first fill bourbon casks, first fill Madeira casks, first fill Jamaican rum casks and virgin American Oak casks, 750ml, $99.99

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Appearance: Pale straw with a peachy hue, very quick legs

Nose: Hay and woody smoke mingle throughout, ending with a touch of bright lemon.

Palate: Light and thin in texture, a sharp note of wood smoke with a leathery quality hits right off. The smoke mellows but the leather keeps with the sip, and has a hint of cocoa on the back palate. Subsequent sips really bring out a softness like sweetened white bread. 

The Takeaway


Okay, I get it now. This is an exceptional peated whisky, for either an introduction to peat or the well-seasoned peat lover. The semblance to Islay whiskies is there, but in a much softer and mellower sense. It’s becoming less and less possible to dismiss the idea of terroir in whisky, but I feel like even the staunchest of deniers would have to acknowledge it with this whisky. In addition to stylistic similarities, the elegance of the craft comes out with this expression, and suggests a distillery with a much older pedigree. 

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Talia Gragg

Talia is part of the Portland service industry community, and an alumna of the Multnomah Whiskey Library. She’s an avid spirit and cocktail enthusiast, and likes to experience them both academically and recreationally. When not sipping whiskey she’s a ceramic artist and lover of travel.